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This article is part of the Undercover Research Portal at Powerbase - investigating corporate and police spying on activists

Part of a series on
undercover police officers
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Alias: unknown
Deployment: 1990s
A number of left wing groups

HN27 is the cipher given to a former Special Demonstration Squad] undercover officer, deployed in the 1990s into a number of left wing groups. On 30 July 2018 John Mitting, Chair of the Undercover Policing Inquiry made a final ruling that real and cover name cannot be published by the Inquiry.[1]

Currently in their 60s.

As an SDS undercover

Recruited into the SDS by a manager of that unit, and interviewed by two of the unit's managers; had no psychometric testing. He had no formal training but learned from talking from other undercovers, and readng the Tradecraft Manual.[2]

In their impact statement, they wrote:[3]

I was assured that my details would not be disclosed either during or after my deployment. This was a comfort not only to myself but to my family.
Had this situation not pertained I would not have undertaken the work.


I was given undertaken by my senior officers that I would never be identified.

The gisted risk assessment noted:[2]

N27 and his/her partner were visited at home by SDS managers when the unique demands of the SDS and potential pressures it could put on a relationship were explained. there was no written guarantee of anonymity however it was explicit that your identity would be protected as part of the general secrecy surrounding the unit.

Ellison cites Bob Lambert's interview with Operation Herne as saying (Ellison, p. 214):[4]

"N27 (also deployed into a different left-wing group) and would have come across Peter Francis, certainly both were at Welling…"

Mitting has stated the suggestion that HN27's deployment had encroached on the Stephen Lawrence campaign was erroneous.[5]

He was a delegate for one of the groups he had targeted. His story was checked out by one group and stood up to the scrutiny. He also went to considerable lengths to create a 'credible, unsuspicious withdrawal'.[3]

HN27 declares that while deployed undercover, he had no sexual relationships, was never arrested and didnt commit any crimes.[3]

Following their exit, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, including having nightmares for years, and says was abandoned 'by the people for whom I had sacrificed [] years. Was very angry about this.' They continue to act to keep his profile low and out of public view as believes the threat against him and his family 'is very real and still exists'.[3]

However, the gisted risk assessment says:[2]

N27 felt that the support and welfare he/she received was good, although the exact nature was difficult to quantify as there was no formal provision in place. N27 was allocated a mentor from the SDS whilst deployed. During N27's post operational debriefing no serious welfare or operational issues were disclosed, other than general suggestions on how to improve the post-operational proforma.

The risk assessor placed the risk if real name is revealed as very high, and the impact as serious. They also say that even if cover name was revealed, HN27 would have to move house and the risk of physical harm is very high. Though it is not clear from the gisted document, it appears that the cover name is a matter of suspicion among those targeted (para. 19.2).[2]

In the Undercover Policing Inquiry

  • 20 March 2018: directed that any anonymity applications for HN27 were to be filed by 28 March 2018 by MPS legal team, or 6 April for the Designated Lawyers team.[6]
  • 26 April 2018: Inquiry Chair, John Mitting, indicates he is is minded to restrict both HN27's real and cover names, saying the officer is 'at risk to life and limb' given nature of deployment and activities undertaken.[5] This was repeated on 3 July 2018,[7] when open versions of the documents supporting the application were released:[8]
  • 3 July 2018: directed that any objections to Mitting's intention to restrict the real name to be made by 20 July 2018.[9]
  • 30 July 2018: final ruling made that HN27's real and cover names cannot be published.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Sir John Mitting, Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstration Squad: Minded to note 12 and Ruling 10, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 30 July 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Duncan Hodge, N27 - Risk Assessment (gisted),Metropolitan Police Service, 10 May 2018 (accessed via
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 'HN27', Impact Statement of HN27, Metropolitan Police Service, 14 March 2018 (via
  4. Mark Ellison, Possible corruption and the role of undercover policing in the Stephen Lawrence case, Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, Vol. 1, Gov.UK, March 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sir John Mitting, In the matter of section 19(3) of the Inquiries Act 2005 Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstrations Squad - 'Minded to' note 8, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 26 April 2018.
  6. Applications for restriction orders in respect of the real and cover names of officers of the Special Operations Squad and the Special Demonstrations Squad: Directions, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 20 March 2018.
  7. Publication of documetns relating to anonymity applications: Special Demonstration Squad - November 2017, January 2018, March 2018 and April 2018 'Minded' to notes, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 3 July 2018.
  8. List of applications and evidence published on 03 July 2018, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 3 July 2018.
  9. Sir John Mitting, Restriction Order Applications by HN1, HN3, HN8, HN9, HN12, HN19, HN20, HN27, HN60. HN72, HN353 and HN355, Undercover Policing Inquiry, 3 July 2018.